How To Grip A Golf Club Properly

The grip is one of the most important components of the golf swing, and it’s one of the first things you should make sure you get right before you even think about anything else.

Many problems golfers (amateurs and professionals alike) deal with can be partially or completely solved with a straightforward grip adjustment.  Surprised?  Some might be, but it speaks to the fact that playing good golf doesn’t have to be complicated.

In golf, there are three grip styles that are generally accepted to be “correct” in the sense that they stand the best chance of maximizing the consistency of any one golfer.  This is not to say anything that deviates from this is bad; there are many skilled golfers that have success with very unorthodox grips, but this is not something that will be explored in the article.

The three common and effective types of grips are the weak grip, the neutral grip and the strong grip.  Weak grips are typically associated with fade ball flights, neutral grips are associated with straight flights and strong grips are associated with draw flights.  It turns out that problems such as frequently slicing or hooking the ball are often caused by grips that are overly weak or overly strong.

The grip that most golfers start out with is the neutral grip, which is adjusted into a weak or strong position as necessary.  It is completely possible to use a neutral grip only and be a very successful golfer, but in the event you want to try something a little different, achieving a weak or strong grip is simply a matter of rotating your hands in unison left or right from a neutral grip position.

Neutral (left), Weak (center), Strong (right)

Neutral (left), Weak (center), Strong (right)

The Neutral Grip

If there is a true standard grip in golf, the neutral grip (sometimes called modern grip) would be considered to be it.  A neutral grip coupled with a proper golf swing will tend to produce a square clubface relative to the swing path, and hence a straight ball flight.  To achieve the neutral grip, the right-handed golfer should do the following (the roles of the right and left hands reverse for a left-handed golfer):

Start by holding the club with the clubhead resting on the ground and pointing directly ahead of you.  Grip the club underhand with your left hand just above the halfway point of the grip such that:

  • your thumb is resting on top of the shaft
  • you can see two knuckles from the address position
  • the crease between your left thumb and your left index finger is pointing roughly at the middle-right side of your chest

Then, grip the club with your right hand such that:

  • your right thumb rests on top of the shaft (farther down than your left thumb), and all fingers on your right hand except the pinky are touching the grip
  • the left thumb rests up against the meaty part of your right palm
  • you can, at most, see the knuckle of your right index finger
  • the crease between your right thumb and right index finger is pointing roughly at the middle-left side of your chest

With your right pinky touching your left hand, you can either overlap it into the crease between your left index finger and left middle finger in an overlap grip, or you can interlock your left index finger and right pinky in an interlocking grip.  Which grip to use mostly comes down to personal preference and is up to the the individual.  The overlap grip appears to be the more common one on the professional tours.  In an interesting note, Tiger Woods, Jack Nicklaus and Rory McIlroy have all used the interlocking grip.

For a visual guide, see PGA Golf Professional Andy Proudman demonstrate in the video below:

Now, for the most common variations…

The weak grip – From the neutral grip position (see above), rotate your hands and the shaft together to the left at least until you can see the knuckles of the index finger and middle finger of your right hand.  Although this process closes the clubface (you should, of course, make sure the face is square at address) this is the weak grip position, where the right hand is “on top” of the left hand.

A weak grip, so named because of the way it limits wrist action, will tend to produce an open clubface relative to the swing path and hence a fade or slice (left to right for a right-handed golfer) shot shape.  Due to the effect opening the clubface has on effective loft, the weak grip makes it easier to hit higher trajectory shots with more spin.  Note that it isn’t a particularly comfortable hand position for most golfers; unless you’re battling a hook or you want to intentionally slice the ball, the weak grip usually isn’t a good choice.

Examples of pros who have used the weak grip:  Ben Hogan, Corey Pavin, Curtis Strange

The strong grip – From the neutral grip position (see above), rotate your hands and the shaft together to the right until you can see at least two of the knuckles of your left hand — your index and middle fingers.  Although this process opens the clubface (you should, of course, make sure the face is square at address) this is the strong grip position.

A strong grip will tend to produce a closed clubface relative to the swing path and hence a draw (right to left for a right-handed golfer) shot shape.  A strong grip allows for more wrist action, makes it easier to hit de-lofted shots and can often help generate additional clubhead speed.  Golfers who struggle with slices or intentionally want to hook the ball should try this grip.

Examples of pros who have used the strong grip:  Paul Azinger, Fred Couples, Dustin Johnson

A short note on cleaning your golf grips…

Grip cleaning and maintenance is often overlooked.  It’s extremely beneficial to do a simple clean of your grips at least a couple of times a month, although it depends on how much you play.  Clean grips will prevent hand slippage and increase comfort, and this could be the difference between an amazing round and a terrible one.  An easy, quick and effective way to clean your golf grips is to use a cloth wetted with a mixture of water and mild detergent.

Be sure to check out the product reviews page of Golfstead for information on quality grips and clubs.